Getting enough sleep while one is abusing drugs and alcohol, was probably never a concern. You may have gone several days without it, or you may have had long days where you barely got out of bed. Once sobriety is the case, people need to relearn healthy life skills, including sleep. Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s rest. A poor sleep schedule increases your risk for relapse.
Easy ways to promote healthy sleep habits and get more rest in early recovery
Establish a consistent schedule
If your bedtime is constantly in flux, your body is going to have a hard time knowing when to rest and restore itself. To solve this, you need to establish a consistent routine that you can stick to. This way, your body will regulate itself, waking up and getting tired around the same time every day.
Avoid naps longer than 20 minutes
If you’re one who loves power naps, be sure to limit them to 20 minutes or less before 3 PM. Regular napping that lasts longer than 20 minutes can interfere with your sleep schedule by making it harder to fall asleep at night.
Reduce your exposure to light
Around 1-2 hours before bed, reduce your exposure to light to signal to your brain and body that it’s time to shut down. Light decreases melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. Avoid watching TV or playing on your smartphone. Instead, meditate, practice deep breathing, take a bubble bath or read a book.
Track your sleep habits
Keep a sleep diary so that you can track your activities. You can write this information down or download an app on your phone, such as the Sleep Diary App on iOS. This tool will help you identify the things that may be keeping you awake at night and prompt you to make healthy changes.
One of the main reasons for not sleeping is stress. Release stress by getting regular exercise. Just 20-30 minutes a day of walking, swimming or biking can significantly lower stress hormones and tire you out, making it easier to sleep at night.
Create a relaxing bedroom
Your bedroom should be a relaxing oasis where you want to sleep. If it’s not, it’s time for a change. Clean up clutter, purchase light- and noise-blocking curtains, find an optimal temperature, replace old bedding, etc. The more comfortable and soothing your room is, the more you’ll want to retreat there to sleep.
We realize that many people in early recovery struggle to get a good night’s rest, but we urge them to adopt these healthy changes first. Relying on medications to sleep can form a new addiction that you don’t need. Fortunately, you can start developing a healthy sleep schedule during your time in addiction treatment.
To join an outpatient program, contact Awakenings Treatment Center.